World's Leading Pharmaceutical Companies Make Significant Expansions to Their Corporate Research Laboratories in Singapore

Agency for Science, Technology and Research and EDB Singapore
2007-05-07 14:15 724

Continued Growth is a Strong Endorsement of Singapore as a Location for Drug Discovery & Development

BOSTON, May 7 /Xinhua-PRNewswire/ -- Singapore's position as a location for cutting-edge research and development (R&D) was further validated when leading drug makers Lilly, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Novartis significantly expanded their drug discovery and development operations in the country earlier this year.

1. Lilly's US$150 million expansion of Lilly System Biology will triple

the size of its research operations in Singapore to 150 scientists

at steady state. The Lilly-Singapore Centre for Drug Discovery will

focus on drug discovery work for cancer and metabolic diseases, while

concurrently serving as Lilly's centre of excellence for disease

state modeling and computational sciences.

2. GSK recently opened a US$13 million medicinal chemistry laboratory

which will build on its existing pre-clinical research center focused

on neurodegenerative diseases. At steady state, the center will house

over 60 scientists. GSK hopes to have a Singapore developed drug

candidate in their R&D pipeline by the end of this year.

3. Novartis Institute for Tropical Diseases (NITD) focused initially on

advanced biomedical research on dengue and tuberculosis. It has

discovered one compound to target multi-drug resistant tuberculosis.

NITD recently expanded its research program to include malaria. This

new addition is jointly supported by Novartis, the Medicines for

Malaria Ventures and Singapore Economic Development Board.

Starting from a virtually zero base in 2000, Singapore has attracted the R&D operations of more than 25 companies to-date. International pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, promising local start-ups and contract research service providers co-exist and collaborate with each other as well as with seven public R&D institutions at Singapore's Biopolis, a purpose-built campus for biomedical sciences (BMS) research. The ability to leverage on a critical mass of scientific activities to forge private-public partnerships is a unique feature of the Biopolis.

Recent significant discoveries by the tenants include.

1. Homegrown ES Cell International (ESI) scored a world's first by

creating human embryonic stem cells designed for clinical use.

Previous stem cells were developed using mouse feeder cells and may

trigger immune attacks.(Note 1)ESI's subsidiary was awarded

US$660,000 by the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research

to fund research on the use of embryonic stem cells for the treatment

of Parkinson's disease.

2. Local company S*Bio's lead candidate for cancer, SB939, entered

clinical trials in U.S. and Singapore. In preclinical studies, SB939

demonstrated excellent anti-cancer efficacy. SB939 has the potential

to be used as an oral therapy for a variety of human hematological

malignancies and solid tumors.

3. The Genome Institute of Singapore discovered a gene that allows

doctors to better predict the clinical course of breast cancer, thus

enabling them to prescribe more appropriate and beneficial therapies.

The gene can accurately distinguish between low and high grade

tumors, and divide them into subtypes to assess the risk of

recurrence and profile survival outcomes. (Note 2)

4. The Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology designed nano

particles that can carry small molecular anticancer drugs and nucleic

acids simultaneously to reduce the side effects of anticancer drugs

and treat cancer more effectively.(Note 3)

Note 1: Nature

Note 2: Cancer Research, November 2006.

Note 3: Nature Materials, 24 September 2006.

"The co-existence of private and public research laboratories, supported by state-of-the-art infrastructure and world-class scientific equipment, encourage the synergy of scientific ideas and facilitate cross-disciplinary collaborative research at the Biopolis," said Mr. Yeoh Keat Chuan, Executive Director, Biomedical Sciences Group, Singapore Economic Development Board. "We are now well positioned to accelerate the next phase of Singapore's biomedical sciences initiative on translational research, to take discoveries from bench to bedside and back."


A critical mass of private companies and public R&D institutions are quickly taking advantage of the shared facilities at the Biopolis, Singapore's 2.4 million square feet purpose-built BMS research complex. They can access up-to-date scientific infrastructure and specialized services without costly capital investments. Some of these shared facilities include:

1. A high-content screening facility to analyze the effects of drug

entities on cells,

2. An automated protein crystallization platform with in-house x-ray

crystallography capability,

3. A laboratory to provide routine and ultra-high speed confocal

microscope imaging solutions,

4. A microarray center to provide resources for printed and commercially-

produced chips, and

5. A facility with pathogen free research animals.

"The facilities at the Biopolis help researchers achieve a quick and timely start-up," said Prof. Ren Ee Chee, Director, Biopolis Shared Facilities. "As a result, demand has been very strong from companies such as ES Cell International, Takeda Singapore, CombinatoRx and others."

New equipment to enhance content screen confocal microscopy, to complete the range of flow cytometry for stem cell research and to complete the range of microarray for genome typing, will also be added to supplement the research services available.


Since it was launched in October 2003, the take-up rate for Biopolis

phase I has exceeded expectations. It is over 95% occupied. Phase II, which was opened in October 2006, is now over 80% occupied. As a result, work has begun on the next phase.

To obtain more information, please visit the Singapore Pavilion at booth number 2533.

For media enquiries, please contact Ruder Finn.

Kim Hamelburg

Senior Associate

Ruder Finn Binder (Boston)

Tel: +1-781-559-0429

HP: +1-202-577-8227


Rae Chew

Senior Consultant

Ruder Finn Asia (Singapore)

HP: +65-9823-7722


Source: Agency for Science, Technology and Research and EDB Singapore